4 November 2012

Top o’ the mornin’ to ya and may your neighbours respect you, trouble neglect you, the angels protect you, and heaven accept you.

We’re back after a splendid couple of days in Dublin visiting with our Ben and what a grand time we had. Although we had driven through Dublin on a couple of previous occasions when visiting either the south or the west, we’d never spent any time in the city and are delighted that we’ve now been able to do so.

You will remember, Ben had some business in Dublin so we flew in for a couple of days beforehand for a bit of rest and relaxation. We dropped Molly off at the doggie hotel on Sunday evening and then flew out from Birmingham early on Monday morning. This did require a significantly early departure from beautiful downtown Byfield made even earlier by the fact that Ms Playchute had neglected to alter the time on her alarm clock so we were roused from our slumbers an hour earlier than required. Even more reason to detest daylight savings time!

May the roof above you never fall in,
And those gathered beneath it never fall out.

From Dublin airport there is a very convenient coach which drops one at the top of O’Connell Street, just a ten minute stroll to the Morrison Hotel where we had secured accommodation. The ten minute stroll became half an hour once Ms Playchute realised that she had managed to leave her jacket behind in Birmingham Airport and, as the weather was distinctly on the chilly side, a replacement was required. Having achieved that objective we continued our stroll to the hotel where we met up with Ben who was waiting patiently in the lobby for our arrival.

The Morrison Hotel
The Morrison Hotel

The Morrison was considerably more sophisticated and “up-market” than we are used to but this is where Ben’s company was accommodating him so it seemed sensible to join him there. After all, it was only two nights! It was perfectly pleasant and comfortable but we did have to “complain” that the “comfy bathrobes and slippers” promised on their web site were non-existent. It seems that when Penny asked one of the cleaning staff why our room did not have these highly desirable items she was told that there weren’t enough for all the rooms and they ran out before they came to ours! Our “complaint” brought immediate results – when we returned to our room that evening we had one bathrobe (not two) and no slippers! We should have demanded a discount.

May you be poor in misfortune, rich in blessings, slow to make enemies and quick to make friends. And may you know nothing but happiness from this day forward.

After getting settled in we set off to what is clearly the most important site in Dublin – the Guinness Storehouse for a tour and a drop of the black stuff. And very interesting it was too. I had always been under the impression that the Guinness sold in the UK was brewed in London and this explained the popular perception that Guinness tastes better the closer one gets to Dublin. While it is true that Guinness used to be brewed in London, now all the Guinness sold in the UK, Ireland and North America is brewed at St James Gate in Dublin so should be completely consistent (apart from whatever issues arise during transportation). It is, however, brewed in about 50 other countries world-wide and the countries with the greatest consumption are (in order), Great Britain, Ireland, Nigeria, the USA and Cameroon – go figure! Sales are down in recent years – only 10 million glasses of Guinness are sold each day amounting to a mere 1.8 billion pints every year. (Click the thumbnails for a larger version – Penny’s Guinness moustache is worth the price of admission alone!)

Guinness Storehouse Guinness Storehouse
Guinness Storehouse Guinness Storehouse

The evening saw us inspecting a few establishments in the Temple Bar district of the city, just over the river from our hotel. Temple Bar is an area inside the old city walls which has retained its medieval street pattern with many narrow, cobbled streets. It’s also geared up for the tourists, of course, so most of the pubs had live music which is always good fun. Not quite so spontaneous as the music we encountered in the west of Ireland all those years ago but most enjoyable.

Temple Bar Temple Bar

May God grant you many years to live, for sure he must be knowing, the earth has angels all too few and heaven is overflowing…

The next day we started off wandering up O’Connell Street looking for a suitable breakfast opportunity. O’Connell Street is named for the Irish Nationalist Daniel O’Connell who campaigned for Catholic emancipation and the repeal of the Act of Union during the first half of the 19th century. O’Connell Street is also the site of the General Post Office which was occupied by Irish Republicans during the Easter Rising in 1916 when they proclaimed the foundation of a free Irish republic independent of British rule. This led to the street’s bombardment for a number of days by a British gunboat and several other artillery pieces. The thoroughfare also saw sustained small arms and sniper fire from surrounding areas. By the end of the week, the rebels had been forced to abandon the GPO, which was burning, and held out in Moore Street until they surrendered. Much of the street was reduced to rubble.

The General Post Office GPO and Spire

O’Connell Street is also the site of the Spire of Dublin (also known as the Monument of Light) which is situated in the middle of the street just near the Post Office. It stands 121.2 metres in height (398 feet) and is located on the site of the former Nelson’s Pillar which was destroyed in 1966 by an IRA bomb. And very impressive it is too! Because it’s a pin-like spire it seems even taller when one stands at its base – the brain gets confused imagining it to be a straight-forward column. Since it’s actually a pin shape it appears as if the top of the “column” is miles up in the stratosphere!

The Spire of Dublin The Spire of Dublin

May you always have a clean shirt, a clear conscience, and enough coins in your pocket to buy a pint!

Bog BodyAfter eventually finding a suitable breakfast hostelry, the Paris Bakery on Moore Street, much of the rest of the day was occupied with more wandering – we meandered through the grounds of Trinity College, made our way to the National Gallery, and visited the National Museum where we saw a fascinating display of bog bodies. These are more than two thousand years old and were buried in the peat bogs until their discovery, by accident, in 2003. They were probably victims of a ritual sacrifice as the bodies show signs of having been tortured before their deaths. Amazingly well-preserved and fascinating.

Cake CaféAfter the National Museum we found ourselves once again in need of some sustenance so we wandered through St Stephen’s Green and finally found ourselves, after many false turns, in a worryingly depressing part of the city. We were looking for the Cake Café which Ms Playchute had identified from her research as suitably interesting and well off the beaten path. When we did eventually find our way, it was an absolute gem. As I say, the neighbourhood was somewhat less than salubrious but the homemade sandwiches, soup and cakes were delicious. And, despite being singularly difficult to find, it was packed – clearly a favourable indication of quality. After a bit more wandering through the public houses and more music in Temple Bar, we found ourselves at Toscana, an excellent Italian restaurant which provided plentiful nourishment for our final evening. Ben was off to work in the morning and we were on an early afternoon flight back to Birmingham.

May you have warm words on a cold evening, a full moon on a dark night, and a smooth road all the way to your door.

And so, we’re back after a splendidly splendid time. Two days was probably about right although there’s still more to see and do – perhaps we’ll make another visit sometime soon. For some reason, Ms Playchute didn’t think my suggestion of visiting the Jameson distillery was a good idea after our tour of the Guinness Storehouse. So, there’s always that to look forward to.

And so, as you slide down the banister of life, may the splinters never point in the wrong direction.

Love to you all,

Greg

PS – I couldn’t resist sharing one of Wednesday’s cartoons from the Guardian. It seems even school children know that Michael Gove is an arse.

Halloween

2 thoughts on “4 November 2012”

  1. I noticed that Ben and Greg each have 2 pints in their hands while having their photo taken… presumably holding the others beer while having their photo taken with Penny. And then I noticed in the photo of Ben and Greg, both of them have 2 pints (one in hand and one on the bar top–you may have to zoom in to catch this). No wonder Penny didn’t want to go to the Jameson distillery!
    Today is our return to Standard time and I’ve just gained an hour… down in the kitchen it was 9:30 and now that I’ve made my way upstairs it’s 8:30…. meaning I have another hour to goof around on the internet before getting some work done.
    And lastly – Happy Birthday to David! All the Irish blessings in today’s post reminded me of the birthday song we used to sing at Four Winds*Westward Ho Camp:
    Dear David we wish a glad birthday to you
    With love and adventure in all that you do
    Gay laughter, light heart and the sun on the trail,
    And on the wide sea road a full blowing sail.

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